Cardiff Metropolitan University
9105 - Claire Andrews.pdf (4.25 MB)

Designing with people with visual impairments: an exploration of the value of extraordinary users in design

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posted on 2022-10-24, 14:46 authored by Claire Andrews


Resonance is the correlation of needs between extra-ordinary users and ordinary users in extra-ordinary situations. Instances of resonance are common and plentiful, for example: attempting to talk to a friend whilst at a loud concert sees similar problems to those that people with hearing impairments overcome everyday, or, using a device whilst wearing thick gloves shows resonance with people with limited dexterity. During a literature review a resonance was identified between people with visual impairments, and people without impairment whilst walking; in that, people with visual impairments cannot visually engage with mobile devices, and, pedestrians without impairment should not visually engage with devices as it causes dangerous and anti-social pedestrian behaviours.

This thesis investigates the theory of resonance and the use of extra-ordinary users as design informants utilising the design of a tactile navigation aid as vehicle for investigation and to provide a response to the research question of:

'How might the employment of theories of resonance and extraordinary users in the collaborative design process result in better design outputs?'

The research uses a two phase approach; the first phase is a practise-led approach using a participatory design process in which the integration of people with visual impairments into a product design process is documented and a reflective analysis takes place on the techniques utilised, their outcomes and their effectiveness. The second phase moves on to assess the output of this participatory design process against more traditional commercially available aids in a comparative study designed to evaluate the perceived benefits and disadvantages for the resonant scenario of pedestrians without visual impairments.

The results show a selection benefits brought about by the recognition of resonance and the inclusion of extra-ordinary users in the design which confirms that working with extra-ordinary users, in this case people with visual impairments, can produce benefits for all users. It also contributes to knowledge by making a series of recommendations for future researchers who plan to design collaboratively with people with visual impairments and finally, by demonstrating the benefits of tactile interaction for mundane navigation commands.



  • School of Art and Design

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD

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